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Flintoff - KP is the best

Injured all-rounder adament out-of-form batsman will come good

Flintoff (L) is backing Pietersen to silence doubters

Flintoff (L) is backing Pietersen to silence doubters

Andrew Flintoff has backed former team-mate Kevin Pietersen to rediscover his finest form in time to fire England to Ashes glory this winter.

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"Kevin, he's too good. Everyone gets carried away but he still averages 40 in the leanest patch in his career. He'll be fine."

Andrew Flintoff

Quotes of the week

Pietersen is currently going through the leanest patch of his Test career having not scored a century for over 18 months.

His barren run forced England selectors to drop him from the ongoing one-day series against Pakistan, and he is currently attempting to play his way back into form with new county Surrey.

Recognising his need to improve ahead of this winter's Ashes defence, Pietersen has also agreed to play for South African side Kwa-Zulu Natal Dolphins in October.

Potential

But close friend Flintoff, speaking exclusively to Sky Sports, has labelled the out-of-form right hander as 'England's best player' and believes he will prove his critics wrong Down Under.

"I was with Kevin a couple of weeks ago and I've seen him a couple of times and he's England's best player isn't he?," he said.

"The good thing about it is England are winning and he's not performing to his potential.

"The one thing they are going to need this winter is Kevin performing. Knowing him as a supporter and a person I think it's a no-brainer - he'll go out there and come back in January having played a huge part in an England victory in the Ashes.

"Kevin, he's too good. Everyone gets carried away but he still averages 40 in the leanest patch in his career. He'll be fine."

While Flintoff's Test playing days are now a thing of the past, the charismatic all-rounder still harbours hopes of one day returning to first-class action with Lancashire.

The 32-year-old has not played any competitive cricket for over a year after undergoing a major operation on his knee 13 months ago.

But, with the motivation of contracts at Queensland and Chennai Super Kings in the offing, Flintoff admits he has no plans on calling time on his career just yet.

Desperate

"At the moment the knee is alright. I'm going to see the surgeon later today actually, and then see how I am," he added.

"I'm desperate to play cricket again. I want to get on the cricket field for Lancashire.

"Everyone's talking about travelling the world and playing for various teams and yeah, I'd like to play in Australia, I'd like to play in the IPL but more importantly I want to get on the field for Lancashire.

"I think timescales are hard because I was hoping to be back playing by now. It's just not worked out like that. The 'Big Bash' is in Australia in January and I'd love to be involved in that with Queensland but we'll just have to wait and see.

"I know there is a lot of hard work in front of me. I've got to get fit before I can entertain any hopes of getting back on a cricket field but I'm just desperate to do so.

"I've had eight operations over the last five years and I think there is always that fear (of never playing again). Hopefully I'll get some good news later today."